John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

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Yet more Oscar commentary

Not that I expect anyone to care, seeing as how the Oscars were two days ago, but here's more commentary on the Academy Awards ceremony, more or less in broadcast order. I need to extend thanks to Andy Ihnatko and Mark Evanier for having blogged in real time during the broadcast. I didn't take notes during the show, and I relied heavily on their blogs to remind me of the order in which things happened.

  • The ABC pre-show was pretty bad. Not as bad as E! pre-shows usually are, and not as bad as they have been in the past, but still pretty bad. It had two redeeming qualities: Maria Menounos's bit with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, which was very funny; and Billy Bush's introducing Keisha Castle-Hughes to Johnny Depp, which was very sweet. Otherwise, it was nothing but a waste of thirty minutes of valuable airtime.
     
  • The first montage of the evening, the one introduced by Sean Connery, seemed almost entirely pointless, even by pointless award show montage standards.
     
  • I thought Billy Crystal did a pretty good job as host. Perhaps not as good as some of his past shows, but he's no Whoopi Goldberg, thank goodness. His song parodies about the Best Picture nominees were very weak, and seeing him digitally inserted into clips from nominated films has lost whatever punch it once had. That said, I did enjoy seeing Michael Moore stomped upon by an elephant, the symbolism of which has only just now occurred to me. I guess there is an advantage to doing this two days after the fact!
     
  • The practice of showing replays of the award winners reacting to having won as bumpers going into the commercials is not better an idea this year than it was last year. Time to retire this one, AMPAS.
     
  • The Best Picture film clip shown for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was far, far better than that shown during the Screen Actors Guild awards, which I hated with the fury of a thousand suns. Nevertheless, it still wasn't very good. I think I would have chosen the scene with Sam and Frodo on Mount Doom. "Come, Mr. Frodo! I can't carry it for you... but I can carry you!"
     
  • By the way, the next time you watch Return of the King, try adding the phrase "because I love you!" to the end of everything Sam says to Frodo, or Merry and Pippin say to each other. It really makes the movie much more entertaining, particularly toward the ends.
     
  • "Newsmakers's Favorite Movies." Not a great bit, but as a viewer I try to remember that for many of the people in the audience at the Kodak Theater, the Academy Awards ceremony is a nerve-wracking experience. Cute little bits help take the edge of the tension, even if they don't make for great TV.
     
  • A nice tribute montage to Bob Hope, who is one of the seminal figures in the history of the Academy Awards and certainly deserves a montage to himself. I might have liked to see a few more clips of his films in there, but I understand why they chose to focus on his service to the Academy.
     
  • Say what you will, but I liked Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller's Starsky and Hutch bit. Yes, it's crass and commercial, but the Oscars have always been an uneasy marriage of art and commerce. It's not like they established the awards because they had a genuine interest in celebrating the art of film-making. So promoting an upcoming movie during the awards ceremony is to be expected. Besides, it was funny. Ben Stiller does the slow burn better than any comedian of his generation.
     
  • I'm in the minority on this, but I didn't like Liv Tyler's glasses.
     
  • What the hell was that thing Sting was playing during the performance of "You Will Be My Ain True Love"? Well, it was a hurdy-gurdy, which according to hurdygurdy.com is "a stringed instrument in which the strings are rubbed by a rosined wheel instead of a bow. The wheel is turned by the player's right hand, while the left hand plays the tune on the keys in the keybox." God bless the Internet.
     
  • Having resurrected the digitally-altered film clips and the Best Picture song parodies, Crystal also brought back his "what are they thinking?" bit. It's a good one, especially "Sir Mrs. Billy Crystal" and his extended Robin Williams impersonation.
     
  • Jim Carrey's introduction of Blake Edwards fell a little flat, though it got better as it went along. Edwards's tribute montage contained what may have been the highlight of the ceremony: the clip of Inspector Clouseau vaulting off the parallel bars into an open stairwell. That right there justified the honorary Oscar. The bit with the stunt man in the wheelchair was cute, and Edward's acceptance speech was very nice, particularly the part in which he thanked both his friends and his foes. Amusingly, the director cut to reaction shots of Julia Roberts and Diane Keaton as Edwards talked about his foes. Who knew?
     
  • Bill Murray's introduction of the clip from Lost in Translation was great. I wonder if he wrote it himself? The clip itself was nothing special.
     
  • I wonder how Katherine Hepburn rated a tribute montage of her very own? Not that Kate wasn't great and all, but with as many big names who died in the past year, it seems a tad unfair. Likewise Gregory Peck. Again, I love Greg, but why does he deserved to be highlighted over, say, Robert Stack or Donald O'Connor?
     
  • I said this before, but I loved that Errol Morris started his acceptance speech by complaining that he hadn't won one before. But if there's anyone in the film industry who's earned the right to make such a complaint, it's Errol Morris. It's amazing that he'd never even been nominated before.
     
  • It's very cool that they got Jamie Lee Curtis to introduce the Best Song nominee from her husband's film. And it's even more cool that the producers asked (or allowed) Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara to perform "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" in character as Mitch and Mickey. The performance of "Belleville Rendez-Vous" was appropriately bizarre, though it must have been nigh incomprehensible to anyone who hadn't seen the movie.
     
  • Not counting the aforementioned film clip from The Pink Panther, the funniest part of the ceremony was Jack Black and Will Ferrell's performance of "You're Boring." Great bit.
     
  • Wow, the clip they chose for Seabiscuit couldn't have been worse. It's an emotional scene, but it ends very awkwardly, with Chris Cooper and Tobey Maguire staring at each other silently. I know it wasn't that good a movie, but surely they could have found a better clip than that.
     
  • I have great respect for Peter Jackson, but my God the man is a slob. Comb your damn hair once in a while, you schmuck! And think about buying a shirt that fits. Interestingly, he was really the only male fashion disaster of the night. And sloppy as he was, it was still slightly better than Uma Thurman's dress.
     
  • I wonder if it's true that Francis Ford Coppola gave Sofia three pages of notes on Lost in Translation, which she threw away without reading? Regardless, he seemed pretty darned thrilled when she won.
     
  • I wonder if Adrien Brody's bit with the Binaca was his own idea, or if the writers suggested it to him? Either way, it was pretty funny, even after you stop to consider that one of the nominees he was preparing to kiss was only thirteen.

All in all, I thought it was a very enjoyable ceremony. Of course, I'm a completely unreliable judge of these things; I always enjoy the Oscars. I just love everything about it.

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